Best Henry David Thoreau Quotes
August 9, 2022 5:00 AM EST
Looking for the best Henry David Thoreau quotes?
We’ve prepared this collection of inspirational quotes from Thoreau for you.
As an American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher, Henry David Thoreau became a household name that changed many people’s outlook on life and nature.
His belief in empirical thinking and spiritual matters penetrated the pages of his work and inspired others in ways of introspection and lending yourself to nature.
He was adamant on and encouraged scientific inquiry and questioning of authority and the very fabrics of democracy.
Many of Thoreau’s words still ring true for us today.
He believed that living independently and making your own informed decisions was the way to live a fulfilled life.
Remember him and his philosophy through the following inspirational quotes:
Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration.
Our inspirational quotes category page has all of our motivational quotes for all the different areas of life.
Inspirational Henry David Thoreau Quotes
1. “Life in us is like the water in a river.” – Henry David Thoreau
2. “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” – Henry David Thoreau
3. “The universe is wider than our views of it.” – Henry David Thoreau
4. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau
5. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau
6. “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
7. “Surely joy is the condition of life.” – Henry David Thoreau
8. “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” – Henry David Thoreau
9. “Be not simply good – be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau
10. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” – Henry David Thoreau
11. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau
12. “Only that traveling is good which reveals to me the value of home and enables me to enjoy it better.” – Henry David Thoreau
13. “It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.” – Henry David Thoreau
14. “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau
15. “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” – Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau Quotes about life and nature
16. “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau
17. “Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau
18. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau
19. “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” – Henry David Thoreau
20. “All good things are wild and free.” – Henry David Thoreau
21. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” – Henry David Thoreau
22. “Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau
23. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them” – Henry David Thoreau
24. “We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” – Henry David Thoreau
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our explore quotes about nature, wander and new experiences.
25. “Not all who wander are lost.” – Henry David Thoreau
26. “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” – Henry David Thoreau
27. “Things do not change; we change.” – Henry David Thoreau
28. “Men are born to succeed, not to fail.” – Henry David Thoreau
29. “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” – Henry David Thoreau
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of Earth Day quotes that inspire an eco-friendly lifestyle.
30. “It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise” – Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau Quotes on Dreams, Success, and Friends
31. “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau
32. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
33. “Most of the luxuries and many so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” – Henry David Thoreau
34. “Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” – Henry David Thoreau
35. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” – Henry David Thoreau
36. “Morning is when I’m awake, and there is dawn in me.” – Henry David Thoreau
37. “Truths and roses have thorns about them.” – Henry David Thoreau
38. “A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority.” – Henry David Thoreau
39. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau
40. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of nature quotes about reconnecting with mother earth.
Thoughtful Henry David Thoreau quotes
41. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
42. “Be yourself, not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau
43. “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.” – Henry David Thoreau
44. “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity” – Henry David Thoreau
45. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” – Henry David Thoreau
46. “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us.” – Henry David Thoreau
47. “Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.” – Henry David Thoreau
48. “When it is time to die, let us not discover that we never lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
49. “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau
50. “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.” – Henry David Thoreau
Other Inspirational Henry David Thoreau Quotes
51. “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”― Henry David Thoreau
52. “I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.”― Henry David Thoreau
53. “For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once done well is done forever.”― Henry David Thoreau
54. “If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”― Henry David Thoreau
55. “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”― Henry David Thoreau
56. “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”― Henry David Thoreau
57. “The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.”― Henry David Thoreau
58. “I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep, and if I don’t get enough for this year, I shall cry all the next. ”― Henry David Thoreau
59. “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”― Henry David Thoreau
60. “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.”
― Henry David Thoreau
More Henry David Thoreau Quotes
61. “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” – Henry David Thoreau
62. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” – Henry David Thoreau
63. “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.” – Henry David Thoreau
64. “This world is but canvas to our imaginations.” – Henry David Thoreau
65. “Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.” – Henry David Thoreau
66. “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” – Henry David Thoreau
67. “We are born as innocents. We are polluted by advice.” – Henry David Thoreau
68. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau
69. “Be resolutely and faithfully what you are; be humbly what you aspire to be.” – Henry David Thoreau
70. “Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our strength.” – Henry David Thoreau
Were You Inspired By These Henry David Thoreau Quotes?
Henry D. Thoreau’s words have the power to alter your viewpoint of the world.
His dedication to living his life as he sees fit and spreading his beliefs of Transcendentalism shaped an entire philosophy on what humans derive from nature and their own decisions.
Don’t let institutions dictate the direction of your dreams—dig deep and focus on what you are wanting to accomplish and it will come.
Hopefully, these Henry David Thoreau quotes have inspired you to work towards your dreams and changed the way you see the world.
Do you have any other quotes from Thoreau to share with us?
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Tell us in the comment section below.
October 20, 2019 at 2:45 PM
If I seem out of touch with the world, it’s because I hear another drummer
October 9, 2019 at 4:42 PM
“You know about a person who deeply interests you more than you can be told. A look, a gesture, an act which to everyone else is insignificant tells you more about that one than words can.” – Henry David Thoreau
May 31, 2019 at 5:09 PM
We have nothing to fear but fear itself: Is normally attributed to F.D.R., but Thoreau said it first…………..
March 11, 2019 at 6:12 PM
“I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
November 6, 2018 at 12:28 PM